Missouri is a rising star in the world of entrepreneurship, creativity, and discovery, and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia, Mo., is one of the many organizations helping the Show-Me State shine.
Originally created in 1984 to help the University with tech transfer, the Missouri Innovation Center has spent the last three-plus decades working as a champion for entrepreneurs here in mid-Missouri and across the state. Still today, one of its primary functions is to drive entrepreneurial activity by working with the faculty and staff of MU to transfer innovative research and technologies into successful companies that benefit society.
Located on campus at the University of Missouri, MIC is a private, non-profit organization focused on supporting high-growth business ventures and entrepreneurs in the life sciences and technology industries.
MIC provides a number of support services and resources, one being the MU Life Science Business Incubator at Monsanto Place that it operates in collaboration with the University.
The Incubator was constructed in 2009 to serve as a resource to the entrepreneurial community of Columbia and to provide a space where people can continue research and development on life science products outside of MU. It can house about 30 companies at a time and has been completely full for the last two years.
The 33,000 square foot facility offers access to conference room space, private office space, open office environments, and wet and dry lab facilities to help launch and grow startup companies. Many residents of the Incubator are life science companies that have come out of the University’s colleges of agriculture, medicine, and engineering.
“The facilities that we have here give people an opportunity to move from just research in the laboratory at a university to an actual company,” said Quinten Messbarger, MIC Vice President.
In addition to the specialized lab space and office areas supplied through the Incubator, MIC also provides mentoring and consulting services to startups, helping them create business and financial plans, raise early-stage capital, and make connections in the community.
MIC works with several non-resident clients as well, typically high-tech companies looking to get more funding either through national grant programs or local banks and venture investors.
A note from MTC Director Bill Anderson
“One of the first of its kind in the state, the Missouri Innovation Center has been supporting tech and innovation in Missouri for more than 30 years. Its commitment to drive economic growth has really helped to build the support system for entrepreneurs statewide and emphasize the importance of integrating our strong education system with Missouri’s growing startup scene.”
“We’re fairly actively involved with almost all of our clients,” said MIC President and CEO Bill Turpin.
MIC is going above and beyond to support, develop, and grow Missouri-based businesses, but not without a support system of its own.
One fundamental partner of MIC is the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC), which provides funding to MIC through its grant program Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity, or MOBEC.
Turpin explained that about one-third of MIC’s budget comes from MTC funds and matching grants, which allows them to have a larger, more senior staff to handle all of the consulting they do with non-residents.
Messbarger added that it’s hard to run an organization that deals with companies in need of money without financial support, so funding from MTC makes a tremendous difference.
“We couldn’t provide the depth and the quality of services to as many people as we do without their support,” he said.
MIC is certainly following through on its mission to stimulate entrepreneurial activity and build businesses here in Missouri, especially over the last year.
MIC launched the Mid-MO Tech Accelerator last fall, a new program that supports startups in the digital technology field and helps them raise the early-stage funding needed to launch in mid-Missouri.
In March, MIC cut the ribbon on a new addition to the facility, which added working space for up to 30 more entrepreneurs.
As for the future, MIC wants to ensure that it provides the same amount of ongoing support to software and IT companies through the Tech Accelerator that it has been providing to life science companies for the past several years.
“I think we have a lot of opportunity to build more companies in the high-tech space here in Columbia,” said Turpin.
MIC has and continues to serve as leader and a support system to startups in both the life science and technology fields, helping to ignite innovation and accelerate growth in the Show-Me State.